One’s suspicion is always raised when somebody makes the claim that a particular technology tool will be transformative for learning. What is a blog, anyhow? It’s just a glorified discussion board, isn’t it? Not exactly. If we peer beyond the tool itself and examine what is happening when our students blog to a more public audience, one can see both the impact on learning and the history of the practices that underly blogging. The classical Greeks made a point of going to the agora (marketplace) to present their ideas and discuss opposing points of view. Blogs are, in many ways, the Web 2.0 sequel to the agora.
What are some of the benefits of regular student class blogging? My kids write daily for five minutes, crystalize their ideas about the day’s objectives prior to the start of class, build a class journal reviewing the course materials for test preparation, provide me a formative assessment to direct class discussions, and test their ideas in a somewhat public forum on a regular basis. Even those that do not speak in class are full participants in the communication and learning process. Blogging is a graded activity that addresses a multitude of learning challenges in one neat package. Even better, blogging can be used at any grade level.
In a recent New York Times article, Cathy Davidson, professor of English at Duke University, states that she wants to replace term papers with blogs. Her rationale has impacted my thinking about student writing, and it may transform the mechanics of creating a student essay. If you would like to know more about student blogging, view actual examples of student posts, and discuss the relationship of blogging to writing and learning, we will explore the world of student blogging in my workshop called Class Blogs are the New Killer App! at Teachers Helping Teachers on January 31, Chase Collegiate School.